Roger Ebert Gives People A Reason To Buy

from the after-connecting-with-fans-for-so-long dept

Last month, we wrote about Esquire's incredibly moving profile of Roger Ebert as part of our discussion of a segment of that article concerning Disney taking down the video of the tribute show for Gene Siskel that Ebert did right after his longtime sparring partner passed away. If you liked the Esquire piece, you should also check out Will Leitch's touching personal story about Roger Ebert, which shows how incredibly nice Ebert had been to Leitch very early on in Leitch's career (and how Leitch screwed it up in a regretfully rebellious moment).

What comes through in both pieces is how utterly nice and decent Ebert seems to be. After the Leitch piece ran, Ebert tweeted to Leitch that "all is forgiven." For decades, tons of people have connected with Ebert through his old television show, and through his movie reviews, blogs and columns. More recently, he's been connecting in a big way via Twitter as well.

And now he's trying something different. He's giving his fans a reason to buy. While we often talk about the whole CwF+RtB business model in the context of replacing traditional models -- such as for music, books and movies, it can clearly work in other areas as well. Our own curiosity led us to try setting up our own CwF+RtB offering -- which was a fantastic success (and, yes, we know we need to replenish and offer more -- hold on, it's coming).

So we're always glad to see others jumping on the bandwagon and trying similar ideas as well. In Ebert's case, it's The Ebert Club, which is a yearly subscription that grants you additional access and benefits for a mere $5. A lot of what you get is available for free, but there are some good scarcities in there -- including private discussion threads and early access to special Ebertfest events including a special meet-and-greet with Ebert himself.

It sounds like they're looking to do more as well, so it will be interesting to see what comes of it. There aren't any tiers -- it's one price fits all -- though I could see room for a tiered offering down the road as well with additional benefits (private film screenings with just club members?). But what it's really showing is that this whole concept of connecting with fans and giving them a real (scarce) reason to buy goes beyond what you might expect -- and opens up all sorts of new possibilities elsewhere as well. And, considering that Leitch's "falling out" with Ebert was over Ebert being the king of "old media," this sort of venture seems very, very new media.

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